Leon Haslam celebrated his first Bennetts British Superbike Championship title victory at Brands Hatch this afternoon, crossing the line in a safe sixth place to have the edge over Jake Dixon into tomorrow’s two races.
It was Glenn Irwin though who was victorious for the first time this season for Be Wiser Ducati, becoming the sixth different race winner of the year, with Dixon and Tarran Mackenzie completing the podium in the opening race to the triple-header weekend.
At the start of the race Glenn Irwin launched off the line to lead the pack into Paddock Hill Bend from Dixon and Mackenzie with Peter Hickman and Andrew Irwin in close contention. Superbike rookie Mackenzie had a big moment on the McAMS Yamaha on the third lap and that dropped him down the order.
On the fifth lap Richard Cooper and Tommy Bridewell crashed out unhurt at Druids, the pair had been running inside the top eight, with Jason O’Halloran crashing out a lap later at Graham Hill Bend.
Meanwhile at the front Andrew Irwin moved into second place on the seventh lap to put both of the Be Wiser Ducatis ahead of the chasing pack. Dixon wasn’t giving up without a fight though an he stalked the younger Irwin brother before making a decisive move with four laps to go.
Mackenzie then had Andrew Irwin in his sights too and he went for a dive down the inside at Surtees with two laps remaining to fire the McAMS Yamaha back into podium contention. At the front though Glenn Irwin had the edge to hold off Dixon and Mackenzie to the chequered flag as Andrew Irwin equalled his best finish of the season.
Peter Hickman held on to fifth place for Smiths Racing BMW ahead of Haslam who had done enough to become British champion after a season that has seen him score 14 race wins and only failed to finish off the podium four times.
Haslam was ahead of 2015 title-winner Josh Brookes and James Ellison with Danny Buchan edging out Michael Laverty to complete the top ten.